By SYLVESTER MWALE –
POLICE in Kabwe are investigating reports that a 27-year-old illegal miner believed to have drowned in a disused mine is actually alive and in hiding from people he owes thousands of Kwacha.
Geoffrey Mwansa was reported dead about a month ago after a group of rival illegal miners attacked him at one of the mines they were wrangling over, forcing him to dive into an abandoned mine full of water to escape.
The incident happened on November 20, 2017 and prompted police and concerned local people to mount a search to find him or retrieve his body, but drew a blank.
Two people accused of causing his ‘death’ are still being held although police say they may have to let them go, in the absence of evidence that Mwansa was indeed dead.
Speculation has since begun to circulate in some quotas that Mwansa actually managed to swim out of the highly polluted dam and had moved out of town to escape the people he owed money.
A funereal atmosphere hangs over Mwansa’s mother’s home in Makululu township, and she says while he remains missing, the family will continue to mourn.
Joyce Mwansa told the Times in an exclusive interview that the family was still holding a funeral because they believed her son was dead.
“We have heard these rumours that he is alive as well, but no one has come to us to officially tell us or provide the evidence, so as far as we are concerned, Geoffrey is dead unless someone proves to us otherwise,” she said.
“We have even stopped going to look around at the dam in the hope that the body may have floated to the surface. We are told, meanwhile, that police are still investigating so we don’t know what to do next.”
Ms Mwansa dispelled rumours that her son had not died but was hiding from people pursuing him for money he owed them but admitted that he had some differences with fellow illegal miners who were fighting for the control of the site.
Central province Commissioner of Police Joel Njase said the police have received reports that Mwansa was alive in Lusaka but there was no evidence to prove the speculations.
“As police, we don’t deal in speculation, so we will continue with the search; but we are not ignoring any possible links. We want to work with the military to help us with the marines to search because we are all concerned that it has taken long; so let’s wait and see what will come out of the search,” he said.
Mr Njase said the police was also contemplating releasing the two people that were accused of causing the death of Mwansa who have been in detention for almost a month now without a charge.